Cleveland Teen Convicted Of Killing Father

By THOMAS J. SHEERAN, Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - A judge convicted a 13-year-old boy Wednesday of killing his disciplinarian father.

Gregory Scruggs Jr. could be sent to juvenile detention until age 21 for delinquency by reason of voluntary manslaughter.

Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge Janet Burney set sentencing for Dec. 3.

The teen-ager confessed to shooting his father, Gregory Scruggs, last June but said he acted in self-defense because of years of abuse. He testified last week that his father hit him with hangers and mop handles and handcuffed him when he was angry.

Prosecutors said the boy acted out of revenge or anger.

"I believe she correctly applied the law to the difficult facts here and found that, despite the history of abuse, Gregory Scruggs Jr. acted -- not out of self-defense -- but out of some other motivation, either revenge or anger or hatred, which is normal, given the history that he lived through," said assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Blaise Thomas.

The 13-year-old sat impassively as the judge read the verdict, occasionally blinking and licking his lips.

His mother, Nafia Matthews, screamed and had to be restrained. She hadn't been involved in the boy's life since his infancy, Thomas said.

She and the defendant's uncle left court without commenting.

"I'm very disappointed," said the defense attorney, Martin J. Keenan, who said he felt the judge should have acquitted the boy on the basis of self-defense.

Gregory had testified that he began "getting whooped" when he was about 4, and began "getting beat," with blows to the face, at 7.

The boy's uncle, Lavelle Scruggs, said his brother physically punished the teen every time he stepped out of line. The punishment would spill over to the next day, when the father would wake his son early before school to do push-ups and handstands.

Gregory Scruggs, 40, was shot in the back of the head June 9 in his suburban Shaker Heights home.

The boy said his father was getting ready to beat him for watching a basketball playoff game with a cousin after being told not to.

The boy told police that they could find the gun, his father's .38-caliber revolver, at his grandmother's house in Cleveland. After shooting his father, he ran there with the gun, a Bible and video games.

(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)